NAB sets "bold" ambition on swift home loans


Podcast: Builds cloud-native mortgage platform with distributed team.

NAB has delivered a cloud-based digital engine capable of reducing home loan approval to under 60 minutes, as part of a four-year journey to revamp customer experience and transform systems.

NAB sets "bold" ambition on swift home loans

The new simple home loan platform has united multiple ways customers and brokers apply for a home loan into a single reusable process that is fully automated and underpinned by digital and data capabilities, leading to a reimagining of its operational banking processes.

The platform was developed in-house by a team of 250, split between NAB's Australian and Vietnam-based engineering operations.

Acting chief information officer of personal banking and executive technology home ownership Paul Norman shared with the iTnews Podcast how the bank achieved its home loan application process revamp.


“Buying a home can be one of the biggest events in our customers' financial lives. It can be a pretty stressful experience whether you're buying your first home or you're an experienced home buyer, and historically the banks can be quite complex to deal with," he said.

“It can sometimes, historically, take many weeks to get an approval or an unconditional decision from the banks, and practically this means for customers that they can struggle to buy with confidence, especially when we have competitive property markets."

Norman, who stepped into the acting CIO of personal banking role following the departure of Anastasia (Ana) Cammaroto, said this led NAB to work hard “on solutions to try and make this particular 'moment of truth' more frictionless”.

“What we realised at NAB about four years ago, was we needed to make a change. We had platforms that were aging. Our processes were typified by manual handling, paper forms, rework," he said.

"We needed to not just to change the technology, but also our philosophy around the end-to-end customer experience.

“We've set ourselves an ambition - it was a bold ambition - that we wanted to deliver unconditional approval to our customers in less than 60 minutes.”

Norman said that upon undertaking the tech transformation, the bank "realised quite quickly that technology alone wasn't going to get us there.”

“We had to solve this by bringing people, process and technology together. We needed to build a digital engine that converged the many ways our customers, bankers and brokers traditionally applied for a home loan into a single, reusable process.

“That process needed to have full automation, straight-through processing, right through the home buying value chain.

“We recognised that we needed to transform and simplify a lot of our processes such that we weren't coding complexity.”

Norman said the project team also “needed to make sure we had the right engineering platforms in place such that we were able to use our cloud-enabled microservices architecture, as well as our internal capability, to take this on.”

It was also important to embed “colleague intervention where it mattered”.

Four years ago

Norman said the bank commenced its journey four years ago in 2019, starting by simplifying and automating some of the lodgement processes, creating "efficiencies”.

These tools are used when colleagues and brokers wish to help a customer apply for a home loan, Norman said.

At the time the bank “used our same legacy backend system” and has since built out “a new 'factory'.”

“We started this in 2021. We leveraged our cloud-native microservices capability to build our backend capability," he said.

“We loosely coupled that with our existing digital platform. What this allowed us to do is create a fully digitally enabled experience that's been built in a fraction of the time it would've taken to do this on a traditional, monolithic platform.

“What this means is we've been able to offer more and more of our customers access to this simpler experience far more quickly.”

Global team reach

Part of the platform's success has been the “ability to leverage our global workforce” across Australia and Vietnam, according to Norman.

“In terms of the [technology] migration, the flexibility we've built with this sort of microservices-based architecture is that we're able to segment, implement and transform backend capabilities in smaller and smaller iterations.

“So that allows us to create more enhancements to automation with straight-through processing.

“Most exciting is we have enabled experimentation so we're able to test and learn rather than design for perfection, and can fail fast where we need to.

“This means we can get features to market far faster than we were able to before, and it means that we can migrate in smaller and smaller chunks.”

The two teams are seen “equally” as part of the NAB ecosystem and collaborate, with the Vietnam team “really an extension of our team and able to deliver features and functionality end-to-end.”  

The wider NAB cloud approach

In line with the home loan transformation journey, four years ago NAB undertook “the bold decision to launch a cloud-first multi-cloud strategy”.

“What's exciting about this initiative is the 'simple home loans' product is cloud-native from the outset. So, for us, this is a critical proof point of our strategy," Norman said.

“[Cloud] has been an enabler of our ability to do this. We've been able to build at pace and scale when we needed to.”

Norman said the “broader industry context around home lending has everyone on the same journey that we are.”  

“Everybody wants to make it as seamless and frictionless as possible for our customers, such that people want to choose that particular financial institution for their home loan going forward.”

“It's a critical part of all of our customers' financial lifecycle, it’s probably the biggest thing a customer can do with us, so we want to make sure it's right. We want to make sure our customers have access to the ability to get a home loan when they need it.

He added part of the broader focus is also making sure that throughout the life of customer’s home loan, “they have the ability to interact with it and the flexibility to make changes as they need.”

“A big focus for us, and as I know many of our competitors, is the ability to provide our customers to be able to access those capabilities through their digital channels, self-serve when they need to, and then importantly, be able to talk to one of our amazing colleagues in those moments of truth”.

Generative AI, talent pipelines and future growth

More broadly, Norman said a core tenet of NAB's strategy is to build its talent pipelines.

Over the last five years, the NAB intern program, for example, has seen 1059 people join, with 250 joining in the last year alone.

“Of those 1059 people that have joined our intern program, more than 600 people have been hired permanently," he said.

“For us, we see that as the workforce of the future, they create immense value. Today, we're able to bring young, talented engineers into our workforce to enable us to do some of the things that I've been talking about, and it also make sure that we've got the talent that we need for the future.”

As its workforce continues to expand Norman and the NAB teams are already preparing for multiple opportunities that lay ahead as “we are in a world of immense change right now”.

“With the world of generative AI, we're starting to look at what those opportunities mean for us [and] some of the use cases that might be relevant for our industry in experimenting with those," he said.

“I think we've got a bold and ambitious and strategic agenda, and at the same time the technology landscape's changing, and it will be really exciting to see how those two things come together.”

As for its generative AI approach, NAB is already using chatbots “for both our customers and our colleagues to deliver differentiated customer experiences”.

“So here at NAB we see lots of opportunities. Right now, we've picked a few key things that we're going to experiment with.

“Within the personal bank we're experimenting with how generative AI help our colleagues get faster information, so the knowledge they need when they're serving one of our customers.

“But it's important at the moment that we anchor that in an approach, that it meets customer expectations, fits within our regulatory obligations as a bank, as well as making sure it's anchored in our own data ethics standards”.


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